1974 CIA spoof / THU 8-13-20 / Fitting nickname for athletes at Whittier College / Sea creature pictured on flag of Anguilla

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Constructor: Jon Olsen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (5:42)

THEME: THREE MUSKETEERS (57A: Group whose motto is a hint to this puzzle's theme) — "All for one and one for all—letter strings "ONE" and "ALL" are swapped inside all the themers, resulting in, well, gibberish:

Theme answers:
  • FONEINGROCKZALL  (i.e. falling rock zone) (17A: Sign on a mountain roadway)
  • RHALLVONEEY (i.e. Rhone Valley) (22A: Famed French wine region)
  • PHALLCONE (i.e. phone call) (35A: Dinnertime annoyance)
  • SLY STONEALL (i.e. Sly Stallone) (51A: Actor with a "Rocky" performance, familiarly)
Word of the Day: bird's nest soup (32D: What the nests in bird's-nest soup are made of => SPIT) —
Edible bird's nests are bird nests created by edible-nest swiftletsIndian swiftlets, and other swiftlets using solidified saliva, which are harvested for human consumption. They are particularly prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, high nutritional value in nutrients such as protein, and rich flavor. Edible bird's nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans, with nests being sold at prices up to about $3,000 per pound ($6,600/kg), depending on grading. The type or grading of a bird's nest depends on the type of bird as well as the shape and color of the bird's nest. It is usually white in color, but there also exists a red version that is sometimes called "blood" nest. According to traditional Chinese medicine, it promotes good health, especially for the skin. The nests have been used in Chinese cuisine for over 400 years, most often as bird's nest soup. (emph. mine) (wikipedia)
• • •

When I was done, all I could think about was SPIT, and about how sad that was. SPIT. As a piece of land or a slender rod for roasting meat, I don't mind the word, but as a rough synonym for "saliva," I find it gross, mostly because it evokes the (human) activity of spitting. You can keep your SPIT out of my puzzles, thanks. But the presence of SPIT here was made so so so much worse by the really weird and misleading clue. I have to believe that the term for what the nests are made of is "saliva." SPIT is a slangy word associated with humans. The idea that birds make their nests with SPIT seems ... odd. I will admit that I had no idea that the nests were saliva-based and in fact I assumed that there was some other culinary thing called "bird's nest soup" involved here in which the "nests" were made of, say, vermicelli. I thought the answer was gonna be a more typical human food thing. I had SPI- and would not write in the last letter / assumed I had an error until the very, very end. I'm never going to believe that SPIT > saliva here. SPIT is an informal, grosser form of the word, and I can't see how it squares with this culinary / avian context. I wouldn't put SPIT in my grid at all, and if I did I would insist it be clued with one of its non-saliva meanings. There's an ick factor; and today, there's a weird anthropomorphization factor. This one answer completely blotted out the rest of the puzzle for me. 

But I guess there was a theme and I should address it, however briefly. I see that the concept is very ... precise; I mean, all for one and one for all, yes, that is exactly what you are doing as you solve, so the concept is literal, I'll give it that. But just look at the grid. It's just nonsense. RHALLVONEEY is a thing that is in this grid. If you're going to do the thing, there should be a good reason and a pleasant result of some sort for doing the thing. Doing the thing just to do the thing gets you, well, this: flagrant non-wordness. What's more, once you grok the theme, the rest of the themers all of a sudden get way way way easier, because you know those circled squares are going to have ALL or ONE in them, so you can just fill them in with very little help from crosses, without even looking at the clue. Also, once you do look at the clue, you know that both ALL and ONE are in there somewhere. SLY STONEALL is I think supposed to be the cleverest of the bunch, but it's actually the worst, in the sense of "least wacky." SLY STONE is a real person, and now ALL I want to do is listen to his music rather than think about this puzzle anymore. 

Further: Kevin SORBO is right-wing dipshit à la Chuck Woolery and Dean Cain and Scott Baio and James Woods and other has-been white-guy fuckwits of the entertainment world, so seeing his dumb ass in the grid wasn't any fun (34D: Kevin who played Hercules). I applied to Whittier (Nixon's alma mater!) when I was applying to college and had no idea they were the POETS (46A: Fitting nickname for athletes at Whittier College). That would not have been a selling point, even though I grew up to teach [checks notes] poetry. There was a big quake in Whittier my first year in college (I went to a different southern California college). No idea why you need to know that, but now you can figure out my exact age if you just do a little stalker-like googling. The "?" clues seem pretty straightforward, though big eyeroll for 13D: February 4th, for many? (SILENT R). There's no silent "R," there's just correct and incorrect pronunciation. Hate SAFARIS as a verb (1D: Travels à la Theodore Roosevelt in 1909-10). Had FICTION before FANTASY (3D: Bookstore section). Had no idea who RON Cephas Jones was. I barely watch network TV and don't care about the Emmys. If Rhea Seehorn has no Emmys (for playing attorney Kim Wexler on AMC's "Better Call Saul"), then the Emmys are clearly meaningless. Five seasons and she's Never Even Been Nominated, LOL, go to hell, Emmys. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:06 AM  

This was definitely not a puzzle to do in my usual manner - ink on paper. My finished puzzle is a mess.

Well, time for a snack. Guess I'll go have a bowl of bird loogie soup.

Melrose 12:09 AM  

Didn't work for me. If you've got a trick that has you scramble letters by some rule, then what you end up with should be another valid word or expression, maybe wacky, but nonetheless meaningful. These were just nonsense. I got them all, got disgusted and didn't bother finishing it. This was not fun.

Harryp 12:15 AM  

Hardest for me was the RHONE VALLEY breakout since I didn't know HECHE, and had a T there till the clean-up. Nice misdirection with the ONE's and ALL's. Block Letters is a great clue, and I laughed at SPIT, but it is what it is. As for SAFARIS, they may have seemed a great idea in 1910, but nowadays only rich Scumbags come back from Africa with an elephant tail souvenir. Good Job, Jon Olsen.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

I rather struggled with this one until picking up on the theme, which I truly needed to complete the NE. I really had a problem with the cluing of 13D crossing 34A. So many better options than a simple mispronunciation of a month. Keeping with the calendar 13D could have been clued relating to say, "Wednesday" and the cross would still work. As clued the letter is NOT silent when properly pronounced! For many whom exactly? Tenth grade dropouts?

jae 12:32 AM  

Easyish. No real problems once I caught the trick, which did not require an excessive amount of nanoseconds. I did have to go back and reread the clues for PRO SHOP and SILENT R to experience the aha.

Fun Thurs., liked it.

@Cdilly52 from yesterday - Not only fellow Buckeyes, but, if I remember some of your previous posts correctly, we both were at the same school in Chambana in the early ‘70s. ...and my dad grew up in Norman, Okla.

Ando 12:38 AM  

I'm just irritated that the NYT app (and probably website) didn't accept completion until FONEINGROCKZALL was in place; it didn't accept it the other way around. When letters are swapped so they only make sense in one direction at a time it should accept them either way as the correct answer IMHO. Took an extra minute or two swapping them all out (and seeing if it wanted rebus answers of both letters.)

mathgent 12:41 AM  

Loved it! Everything about it. Big aha when I guessed THREEMUSKETEERS and saw the ALLs and ONEs.

Fearless prediction. The clue for 2D will be on Lewis’s list.

I think that I knew that bird’s-nest soup was made from real nests but I didn’t want to think about it too much. Still don’t.

Pamela 12:48 AM  

I struggled for quite a while, then got my Aha with SLYSTALLONE. Sadly, though, I have to agree with Rex that ending up with all those non-words in the grid was disappointing. I like it when the ‘wrong’ way is funny, or interesting, or...something. Give me Dad jokes or Swifties any time over nonsense.

Also totally agree with the Ewwww at SPIT. That’s just nasty. I looked it up, and this is what the Cooking Channel says: These nests are actually made out of bird saliva, which has dried and hardened. That's right; when you're eating a bowl of bird's nest soup, you're having a bowl of spit (and other ingredients). EEEWWWW!

The whole NE corner was my first success- I got Moliere from the M, have seen the SILENTR before- maybe even this year? And AMALGAM was a very recent SB word. But then ZALL had me searching for an error for way too long. I was sure that Falling RockZone had to be the answer, but couldn’t make it fit. The clue for PROSHOP was fiendishly clever, needed most of the crosses to get it. And who knew what tonic water was invented for? Not I! But now I do, one thing to thank this puzzle for.

Richardf8 1:04 AM  

Saw Kevin SORBO and smiled. It took me back to the halcyon days when my wife and I would pick up a Papa John’s pizza and watch Hercules and Xena back to back on a Monday evening. Good times. So then I come here and learn SORBO’s gone fascist. Ah well.

As for the rest of it, this theme was dreadful. Easily grasped, and producing unwords. I did all that syllable swapping and didn’t get so much as a Spoonerism for my trouble. Boo.

Well anyway, off to go enjoy a nice steaming bowl of Bird Spit soup. Honestly, if the SPIT is the biggest problem you have eating a bird’s nest, I would submit that you are not considering all the areas of concern, so yeah, maybe I’ll just stick to the Moo Shu Beef instead.

Frantic Sloth 1:06 AM  

So, ALL for ONE and ONE for ALL. Even though I emerged from this solve with googly eyes, I enjoyed it. The fill felt easy for a Thursdee to me, but it wasn't junky so that's really all that matters.

And I am reminded of some Christopher Walken silliness.

How would you like to be on a team called "The Fighting POETS"? They usually win by scoring all the points while the opposition are paralyzed with laughter.

SPIT? SPIT?? is what the nest of bird's nest soup is made of?? In the name of God, the saints, and all that is holy WHY???
Somebody please tell me that's a code word for, oh I don't know, noodles or something!

WOE is that whole February/SILENTR about? And why the 4th of February specifically?? I mean I get what is being said, but again WHY???

@Z from yesterday I know you know "mathiness" is a compliment! Can't say the same for "ok, Boomer" which really gets my cork.

@Birchbark from yesterday. Well, there's something I never pictured, but makes sense. Antler utensils. Go know. I confess it doesn't clear up the "by the great horned spoon..." quote mystery, but I'm not meant to know everything. So far, so good. 😉


pyroclasts 1:25 AM  

The worst NYT crossword of 2020. Easy.

What a thoroughly terrible theme.

Defender 1:26 AM  

Puzzles that require you to put letters in the answer to the clue that are completely wrong leave me clueless.
I keep thinking the superstars of crossword are so bored by the basic idea of a crossword puzzle and so unchallenged by these puzzles that they enjoy puzzles which require you to figure out why the correct answer to the clue doesn’t work, and THAT’S the puzzle.

I’m not that person.

I want the puzzle theme to say “The correct answer doesn’t work, guess why!”

I know, I know I should go do easier puzzles! Well, NO.

Also, he grumped, silentr, is NOT a correct answer for February 4th for anybody, let alone many.

There, long tough day. Now I feel better. Thank you!

Jeremy S 1:35 AM  

I found this one easy with a number of extremely tough sections. RON next to ENG, both crossing HONORE, was a complete mystery for me. All three are esoteric (to me) proper nouns. The NE was also littered with them: ARA and SPYS combined to make this tough - especially because I'd not heard of ASTER before.

The double-use of "Rocky" (for ADRIAN and the SLYSTONEALL themer) was pretty rocky, because it's used in a straightforward fashion in the first case, while it's supposed to be a pun in the second.

I think this puzzle would have been amazing if the theme answers made sensible words as-is. If that happened, I would have been blown away. As it is, I agree with Rex that it feels a bit underwhelming.

Dave S 1:36 AM  

Ick. Granted, much of the fault lies on me for doing the puzzle late at night, accompanied by dark and stormys. That's not ACTUALLY my fault, since i was celebrating finding a six pack of Gosling's ginger beer in a CVS, of all places. Anyway, eventually glommed on to the theme despite some definite confusion caused by the beverages, finished it online and was told that at least one square was out of place. So I look back to find what doesn't make sense, and of course NOTHING makes sense, it all just a lot of alphabet soup. Eventually found that I had put in inlay instead of onlay, but the time for satisfaction at a quick solve had long, long passed.

Never heard of Kevin Sorbo, so I was spared some indignation. Really liked the clue for pro shop once I got it and the Whittier College one, also the proper names Nan and Nomo, but just becasue I knew them right away.

Anyway, next time I'll approach a puzzle like this more soberly and maybe not mix my ones and alls. For the first time I'm glad I wasn't doing it on paper since I'm pretty sure my writeovers would have gone through to the business section.

JD 1:43 AM  

@Roo, If you caught my post yesterday notice the repetition we have today with the word Spit (9 times in a 285-wordish screed), an hilarious word bound to provoke laughter in any 3 to 5 year old, or anyone sheltering in place too long. Some people might find this a little crazy.

This puzzle's theme was also kinda crazy in a woo-how-did-someone-think-of-this way. Spent a lot of time thinking and staring. Really loved it. In fact, I think it's genius. It challenged me and held my interest.

Did want Fitting nickname for athletes at Whittier College to be the Nixons. Nixon's alma mater being another piece of worthless information crowding my brain but it would've been really funny.

Defender! 1:44 AM  

Puzzles that require you to put letters in the answer to the clue that are completely wrong leave me clueless.
I keep thinking the superstars of crossword are so bored by the basic idea of a crossword puzzle and so unchallenged by these puzzles that they enjoy puzzles which require you to figure out why the correct answer to the clue doesn’t work, and THAT’S the puzzle.

I’m not that person.

I want the puzzle theme to say “The correct answer doesn’t work, guess why!”

I know, I know I should go do easier puzzles! Well, NO.

Adam12 1:56 AM  

Seems a north/south rebus. Substitute “all for one” or “one for all” or as I had it a/o, l/n, l/e in each circled square (or visa versa) depending on across or down. Grid looked fine. Of course it was wrong in the NYT software so maybe Rex has a point. Agree about spit and Sorbo.

Anonymous 2:00 AM  

@Rex It's rhONE vALLey. Wrong river. And iNE isn't ONE even in German.

Fun theme with a good helpful revealer.

Michael 2:18 AM  

Gotta agree with Rex’s comments re: Rhea Seehorn, if little else in his critique of this puzzle.

chefwen 2:21 AM  

Going to have to pass my trusty Cross pen over to puzzle partner, he’s getting better at these puzzles than me and I’ve been doing them for far longer than his Nibs. I got the ONE ALL fairly quickly but he was the one who figured out the trick. DOH, like I’ve said before, sometimes it takes a two by four up against the head. He’s never ventured past Wednesday solo, time to print out Thursdays for him, although we do enjoy solving together.

Haven’t had one in ages, but I think I’m going to have to purchase a Three Musketeers Bar next time I’m at the store, used to love them.

Anonymous 2:52 AM  

Rhea Seehorn!

Anna 2:58 AM  

Oh Rex, I knew I could count on you to call bullshit on that "February 4th" clue. Much obliged.

Otto 3:10 AM  

Rhone Valley, not Rhine Valley.

Frog Prince Kisser 3:13 AM  

In "Theme answers:"

Should be RHALLVONEEY (i.e. Rhone Valley), not "Rhine Valley."

Michael Hanko 3:51 AM  

If you hate safaris as a verb, you might be happier with travels as a noun. Thank you, by the way, for your SPIT take; I had trouble accepting this as the answer to that clue as well.

Brian 4:27 AM  

Rex, shouldn't the answer for 22A should be "Rhone" Valley, not "Rhine" Valley?

Pete 4:48 AM  

I knew nothing of SORBO. Not any context of Hercules thar involved a Kevin, nothing of his right-wing fuckwadishness, nothing. That's part of the reason I had a DNF with dIMMER/dORBO. I'm sure Kevin Dorbo is a fine person at least, by I guess he never appeared in Hercules movies that I never heard of. I am sure when my lights are on low they're dIMMER.

Conrad 5:12 AM  

Ah!! Rex is back!!

My block letters at 1A were ABC, which briefly made Teddy Roosevelt's travels afFAirS. Never heard of Kevin Sorbo, and when things at my house are put on low they're light bulbs that are dIMMEd. That got fixed when I couldn't figure out why February 4th was SILENTd day. It all got straightened out in about average Thursday time.

Conrad 5:18 AM  

@Frantic 1:06: the 4th letter of the word February is a silent R.

EricStratton 5:50 AM  

It's a lost cause, but lost causes are fun to pursue. Yes, Rex, we understand that those who have political views with which you disagree are "fuckwads." I imagine you keeping a master list of celebrities who are fuckwads. How often do you update it? Do you have a team that scours the internet for unapproved utterances by old actors? It gives you something to do in the hellhole of Binghamton, so there's that.

I do have one question for you. Do you limit your list of bad people to older white men, or can a woman make the list? How about dead people or people that don't advertise their views? For example, would Regis Philbin make your list? My (now deceased) wife and I sat behind Regis, Joy and Donald and Melania Trump at a Tony Bennett concert, and they were all clearly good friends. Regis is dead and, as far as I know, never spoke much about politics. So, is he on the list or not? Just trying to keep the rules straight.

BarbieBarbie 6:16 AM  

@Rex, do you think “Travels with my Aunt” is a verb phrase? I guess it could be, but I’ve always thought noun. Same in 1D.

Anyone who has ever had a betta in their fishbowl knows that they make SPIT nests, and nobody thinks they should be called saliva nests. So it looks like SPIT isn’t just for baseball players.

Never noticed SORBO because the crosses were too easy, but it wouldn’t have bothered me. Hollywood is full of talented people with minimal educations and tall soapboxes. Luckily, there’s a spectrum, and also luckily, you don’t have to read the kind of “news” article that quotes any of them.

I liked this puzzle a lot. Made me smile more than once. It would have been insanely hard without the circles, but putting the circles in made it really easy if you got the trick early, so I’m not sure what’s best there. Anyway, I’d love to do more!

ChuckD 6:19 AM  

I had no problem with this puzzle - simple letter swap. Not the rebus I always look for on Thursday but it was ok. Thought the grid was rough - the center PHONECALL creates some gluey short areas. No problem with the SILENT R clue - that’s how most people pronounce it. Didn’t like the ON ALERT/ONLAY cross. Liked the PROSHOP clue and cool to discover a DOLPHIN on Anguilla’s flag.

I’ll take it for a Thursday.

G. 6:21 AM  

Kranky today. Aren’t we.

This was a great puzzle.
As always, the object is to put the right letters in the right squares.
Who cares if it’s gibberish?
It’s a Thursday puzzle for god’s sake.

Lighten up Rex.

BarbieBarbie 6:25 AM  

Forgot to say: DOLPHIN was a gimme for me because I had just listened to a podcast about the flag of Anguilla. Is that weird or what? Go listen to it if you don’t already follow 99 Percent Invisible.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

@michael hanko -- "Spit-take" -- Hah!
@mathgent -- It's definitely in the running.
@rex -- True re Rhea Seehorn

I will respectfully listen to anyone's nits about this puzzle, but I will not let any of them dim my relishing of what was one terrific solve for me, the best kind, where you crack the theme with a big "Hah!", and it unlocks the puzzle, allowing you to zip downhill with a big "Whee!"

And to counter any nit, may I present as evidence Jon's new never-used-before clue for EEL, a word that has appeared more than 800 times in the NYT puzzle. That is a deed indeed. Another counter is good learning, and the first thing I did after solving, of course, is read about bird-nest soup, and actually learned interesting stuff that will stay with me.

I wish I was in Jon's head when he saw the Musketeer phrase and immediately flashed on the crossword possibility. I'm sure it was immediate, too -- he's a constructor. Those are among the best moments.

This solve infused me with zeal for the rest of the day. Can't ask for more. Thank you so much for this, Jon!

Jethro 6:50 AM  

With you all the way EricStratton! The naivety of our host is so chronic I can only laugh.

M. Ehrmantraut 6:53 AM  

Because Rhea Seehorn is a genuinely gracious person who doesn't spend all her time promoting herself and elbowing other people out of the way.

You don't find the selfless ethic and group solidarity of the The Three Musketeers when it come to Hollywood award season. It was The Three Stooges who summed it up best: "All for one. One for all. And every man for himself."

Anonymous 6:59 AM  

@Ando 12:38AM . I'm afraid your idea would destroy the downs.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Constructors, take note. This is how you do it. Novel theme, four rock solid theme answers, a superb revealer.

Throw in great non-themers like MOLIERE, DOLPHIN and PRO SHOP.

Would have been more fun without the circles, of course, but this is primo work.

Chaspark 7:16 AM  

Can someone explain PROSHOP? I had PROSHOT

OffTheGrid 7:25 AM  

I'm definitely with @Lewis today. This was tons o' fun. First, Thursday is "anything can happen day" and this "anything" was clever. When I see this many circles I try to get started by doing some downs. Fortuitously I began in the SE. THREEMUSKETEERS popped after a few crosses. So the ONE/ALL theme made the Stallone answer make sense. The theme was thus very helpful in filling in the other circles. I ended in the NW which was gnarly. I must object to 2D. This conversation never happened. Golfer, "I'd like to buy a new driver". Pro shop employee, "Sorry, we're out of THE woods." Talk about nonsense. On me-I didn't know ARA or IOS so a tough corner.

amyyanni 7:27 AM  

Must admit I'm OCD enough to be disquieted by the finished puzzle. The fact that I did in a stretch of insomnia around 4 am made getting back to sleep difficult. And ONLY SON is not smile inducing. Ah well, sun is up, time to go outside and cheer up.

Casimir 7:36 AM  

Woods are golf clubs sold in proshops. Clever clue.

Bubbabythebay 7:37 AM  

Febuary, February..must be regional thing. Here on Canada's east coast, it's SILENTR territory all the way,or maybe BARELYAUDIBLER when we try to sound all big- city

Leslie 7:47 AM  

I thought it was clever and fun. Perfect Thursday!

TTrimble 7:55 AM  

Hear, hear.

But what really screwed me up is putting in dIMMEd for 34A, a perfectly plausible response. I didn't know the PPP SORBO for 34D, and didn't clue in to SILENT R (which, agree with Rex, is dumb -- similarly, some people, mostly children, say "libary" for the place where you get books, but that doesn't mean...). Thus, this wound up being a DNF, or at least a cheat to finish. Grrr!

Joining the growing chorus over SPIT. That's where I put an inordinate amount of time and attention: all the crosses seemed to make sense, but I kept thinking, "no, that can't be". I couldn't shake the thinking that this was a bird's nest as a Chinese restaurant food item -- frickin' ewww!!! not to mention nonsensical. Totally agree with Rex that this was terrible, terrible cluing.

The theme wasn't hard, but I found it difficult to work with since I don't do "rebuses" (which by the way seems an inapt term) because I've never had to, and due to the technical difficulty noted by Ando. Although I had to cheat to fix dIMMEd to SIMMER and get the happy music, my time was not a cause for happiness.

Not an auspicious start to the day. On to SB, then?

Unknown 7:56 AM  

I hated it. And there is no silent “r” in February however much one hears the language being crucified.

Whatsername 8:20 AM  

A tricky Thursday. I love when that happens. And a clever theme that I’m surprised hasn’t been done before. When I first looked at 17A, I kept thinking okay, that’s got to be FALLINGROCK and then 22A has to be something VALLEY. The the light bulb came on and I got the trick and knew immediately what the revealer would be. It was nice too that the theme was an aid to the solve, which isn’t always the case.

Liked the clue for PROSHOPS but SILENTR, not so much. Took me a minute to see it was the “4th” letter, kind of a groaner I thought. Anyway, thought it was a nice touch to have SLY STALLONE (as opposed to Sly Stone) right there next to ADRIAN. Yo Adrian! It’s me, Rocky! Two dental clues, AMALGAM and ONLAY, which was apropos because a couple of those proper names were like pulling teeth. Bird nest soup is a delicacy I’ve never tasted. Now that I know its price and SPIT content, I’m quite certain I never will. Bleh.

Joe Welling 8:26 AM  

It must be a regional thing. Nobody around here pronounces it February Fou'th!

TTrimble 8:27 AM  

@Anonymous 6:59AM
And the other way destroys the acrosses. I think you can argue it either way, just substitute ALL for ONE and ONE for ALL for your own choice of direction, and Ando's point that the software should have accepted either is valid.

---[SB Alert]---

I'm not in the mood to discuss yesterday's, because I'm a little cheesed off about today's, for reasons which will be explained later. Further comment is put on hold.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Kevin Sorbo. LOL.

WhatDoing 8:32 AM  

Loved this entry Rex! I too refused to write in that final T and I simply love the term right wing dipshit. Thank you (falettinme be mice elf).

Hungry Mother 8:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maineiac 8:43 AM  

Walter Cronkite never pronounced the "r" in February...

Mickey Bell 8:46 AM  

Right on with Bird’s Nest Soup clue, Rex. That S was the final letter I filled in.

This puzzle was full of obscurities, dated references... but I thought the theme was fun enough.

Didn’t like SPIT. But I did learn something.

Hungry Mother 8:47 AM  

Cute theme and very helpful to the solve. This took me longer than usual, but was quite enjoyable ALL the way. @EricStratton: homage to Animal House?

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Not a rebus.

sommmervillle 9:09 AM  

definitely a little hard to enjoy because you have to make rebuses so often, and I wanted the across letters to come first in each circle. Gets a bit hard on the eyes! Rex's way of laying out the puzzle makes the motto readable in two directions, top and bottom.
So even if the puzzle itself is not worth salivating over, it had a lot of clever clues and tight consistency.

I'm neutral to negative on the SORBO question. Politics aside, he was one of the most terrible actors ever. The shows were unwatchable.

Larry 9:14 AM  

Stubbornly left FALLINGROCKZONE in until I got to 57A, even though the Downs didn't work there.

32D was the last thing I entered. Have never had it, and I don't think I ever will, now. Never knew the background on the ingredients.

For all of those complaining about the pronunciation of February, check your dictionaries, please. From Merriam-Webster online:

How do you pronounce February?: Usage Guide

Dissimilation may occur when a word contains two identical or closely related sounds, resulting in the change or loss of one of them. This happens regularly in February, which is more often pronounced \ˈfe-b(y)ə-ˌwer-ē\ than \ˈfe-brə-ˌwer-ē\, though all of these variants are in frequent use and widely accepted. The \y\ heard from many speakers is not an intrusion but rather a common pronunciation of the vowel u after a consonant, as in January and annual.

According to this, both are acceptable and the r-less pronunciation is more common.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

The 4th letter of the word February is allegedly the Silent R

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I wonder if there are any fundamentalist Muslims or Christians who would react similarly to seeing Anne Heche’s name as Rex did to seeing Kevin Sorbo’s. I would say probably not. They’d realize that inclusion in a puzzle is not an endorsement of their views or lifestyle. Would that Rex were so tolerant.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Not a rebus.

Unknown 9:23 AM  

Rex-22 across is Rhône Valley, I think, because each circled box has O/A, N/L E/L (one or all across or down.)

Nancy 9:29 AM  

I loved this puzzle -- which was hard until I got the trick and then pretty easy. But since I got the trick with the very first theme answer, it wasn't hard for ONE that long. I did futz up the NW for a bit by putting in STP instead of SPF at 1A. I always confuse them -- no matter which ALL of them is being clued. Why do I do that, I wonder?

Will someone explain SILENT R to me, please (13D). It's not an "I paahked my caah in Haavaahd Yaahd" thing, is it???? As in Febooary fawth? God, I hope not.

The less said about SPIT, the better. I just know that I will never order bird's nest soup again. Ever.

And finally -- I have this strong feeling that I've seen this puzzle theme before. I imagine it was done in a somewhat different way? It doesn't matter: however it was or wasn't done, with my memory I don't remember it. Which makes this new for me. (More about this in my next post.) Anyway, SPIT notwithstanding, I had fun with this.

KnittyContessa 9:38 AM  

I figured out the theme right away so it was really easy to fill in the blanks on the rest. Surprisingly fast solve. Not very enjoyable, but fast. Never like looking at gibberish in a puzzle. Would have been a lot more enjoyable if the ONE and ALL mix up would have resulted in real words.

I initially thought the nest in the soup might be made of eggs, like egg drop soup. I really, really didn't want it to be SPIT. I like my recipe better.

Thanks @Conrad for explaining the SILENTR and @Casimir for PROSHOP I had absolutely NO idea what either of those clues meant.

Unknown 9:40 AM  

@Ando Totally agree - app added unnecessary time to my score figuring out which letters they would accept.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

I think "travels" and "safaris" are nouns, not verbs.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

But if they're not swapped, all those downs are incorrect!

alohagirl 9:58 AM  

Really liked it!

Z 10:05 AM  

Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with Rex more. First. If you are saying February with an R sound you sound inelegant at best, downright laughably foolish at worst. It’s a SILENT R because being less annoying to the listener is more important than some arbitrary notion of “correct pronunciation.” That R sound is nails on chalkboard (if you’re under forty you may look that up - let me suggest that you don’t play that audio file). I guess there is a little prescriptivist in ONE of us (you can figure that out).

Then there’s the whole SPIT saliva thing. Butt derrière. Fuck coitus. C’mon man. There is nothing inherently better about ENGlish Royal Court French. It’s SPIT. Saying it’s “saliva” doesn’t make it different. It’s bird SPIT and apparently it’s a specialty in China. Okay, not my cuppa, but kind of interesting. But ranting on about a language preference rooted in historical systemic class oppression was not what I was expecting from OFL. Not to mention that our whole SPITing is crass thing is probably a direct result of the 1918 Flu Epidemic.

Oh, the puzzle. Saw through the conceit early on which made it easy. Knew it couldn’t be FallING ROCK Zone because of FANTASY working on all the other crosses, almost started writing Zone and noticed that ONE and ALL in the phrase and the puzzle was basically done except for the mop up. The last time we got the John and Paul but not Ringo clue the answer was “saints,” so that clue took two extra nanoseconds. I also finished with a long pause at SPIT because it seemed so unlikely as an answer to a menu item. but those were the only real slowdowns.

@Frantic Sloth - Re “mathiness” - I’m just confirming that my outrage was faux. As for “OK Boomer,” I’d be more more upset if it weren’t so often apt. As a white male Boomer it gets pretty tiresome being repeatedly embarrassed by my cohort, cf SORBO. Fremdschämen has almost become a way of life.

Nancy 10:05 AM  

From the *Why My Fuzzy Memory Has Been a Godsend During the Pandemic* Dept:

As I said in my previous comment, I have this vague feeling I've seen an "all for one" puzzle before, but don't remember how it worked. Well, that's not only true of crossword puzzles.

I just had the opportunity to watch "Silver Linings Playbook" on Netflix -- a 2012 film that I only saw once, in a theater. I remembered loving it, but I didn't really remember what it was about. So I added it to my Netflix list and watched it one stifling afternoon last week.

It wasn't so much that I didn't remember the movie. It's that I didn't remember a single frame of the movie! (Well, maybe one -- one that lasted about 15 seconds.) It was like watching a wonderful and completely new movie. And what I thought was "Eureka!!!" I realized that, while it wouldn't work for movies I'd seen a dozen times like "GWTW" and "Brief Encounter" and "Annie Hall", it would probably work for any movie that I'd only seen once. And thus I diverted myself during both the pandemic and the heat wave this past week by watching some of the seen-only-once films I'd previously DVRed on TCM. My afternoon matinees on successive days were "The Train", "The Student Prince", "Elevator to the Gallows" and "Klute". I remembered the villain in Klute, but just about nothing else in any of the movies. Why I didn't even remember -- SPOILER ALERT!!!! -- that (sob) the student prince leaves Kathy to go on and be King. Such a heartbreaking disappointment.

The bottom line: A fuzzy memory has its advantages.

Simple Minded 10:06 AM  

I am amazed at the number of solvers who made this puzzle so much more complicated than it is. Look at the completed grid as at the beginning of the blog. In your mind swap ONE & ALL to get the theme answers. That's it.

RooMonster 10:12 AM  

Hey All !
Big thanks to @JC66, @JD, @Lewis, @Birchbark, @Barbara S, @TTrimble, @Teedmn, @M&A, @Frantic Sloth, @Anoa Bob, and @Pamela for the Birthday wishes YesterPuz!! And @kitshef for getting in an F with Birfday! It's cool to be "accepted" by a group even though they don't really know you! It's touching. *Sniff*

*Ahem* OK, man up Roo! Stop being a wussy! (Har)

Aah, back to a good ole Rex Bash. Funny how when you get used to something, when it changes, you miss it. Put me in the group who thought the resulting answers should've actually been real things, closest was SLYSTONEALL, but that was probably impossible to do. Clue for SLYSTONEALL could've been something like - Actor who throws rocks at everyone?

Those insane Chinese, eating all kinds of disgusting inedible stuff. First, it was bats, which gave the World COVID, so thanks for that. Now, we find out they eat Bird SPIT soup? What is wrong with these people? Jeez, someone introduce burgers and chicken to them! :-) Dang, what's next, Dog Pee Stew? (Breakfast test fail, I know, sorry.)

ONYXES was tricky. The clue kept me thinking of a cameo in a movie. uvw for GEN screwing me up in the NE. Plus SpAce for START. Had SIMMER in and out about four times. Also that SILENTR clue was toughened up just for toughenings sake. Why put in the 4th? With my uvw, wanted that clue to end in war, since it's 10 days before Valentines Day. Figured the guy would start a love war or something to avoid getting a gift. And of course, not being sophisticated, MOLIERE was a look-up, as I was stuck in that corner with no chance of proceeding.

But this is just me at 8D, CROWER. :-)

Figured out the theme at PHONECALL, twisting the ole brain to see the ONE and ALL switched, ending up with gibberish. Took a minute to realize they were all that, as had in the first themer CAutIonROCKZONE, so further mess up in that NE with 17A being cONEIonROCKZaut. Dang, I hate that NE corner! Har.

Did have a fun clue for LIMBO.

**SB YesterBee**
First, LOL at @M&A YesterPuz with his faux alert! Brain must be getting worse, as I missed a bunch (11)(ouch!), of which I should've got 9 of them. Simple words that just wouldn't show up. I knew there was another pangram, but whiffed on that, too. Oh well, at least I got to Genius. Misnomer, that.

Two F's

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

This is a puzzle. It doesn't care about your feelings regarding Kevin Sorbo's political leanings. If it makes you that triggered, perhaps there's an IHOP placemat you can work on instead.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

@Defender, and others:
Also, he grumped, silentr, is NOT a correct answer for February 4th for anybody, let alone many.

One of the ways to know whether a speaker is native to the language is to note the elisions. Almost no one says "going to" with the second 'g' sounded. In fact, most trailing consonants are dropped by American speakers, and not just those near Hahvah Yah. The dropping of the initial 'r' is almost universal pronunciation. As the frequent argument goes, American English is not controlled by An Academy as many European languages, but by dunderheads who can't be bothered to enunciate. A Latina (long before that word had been coined) of recent arrival was puzzled why we all smiled wide when she said 'Colgatay Toothpastay'. American English has to be the toughest (latin alphabet) language to learn coming from another. The only rule seems to be 'there are no rules'.

can a woman make the list?

sure. that fuckwad Qanon Republican in Georgia.

Jane 10:15 AM  

Love Rhea Seehorn and agree her lack of an emmy nomination is a travesty but don't knock Ron Cephas Jones just because you haven't seen This is Us. He is an incredible actor and well deserving of his emmy.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I have to say I think my least favorite answers are things like Soft G and Silent R. Just annoying.

orangeblossomspecial 10:23 AM  

Hmm... Spit is obnoxious and not puzzle-worthy, but DIPSHIT is legitimate?

pmdm 10:24 AM  

I did get the revealer, but did not understand what it led to. So I never realized the word swap. After learning about the swap, my impression of the puzzle took a turn for the better.

Some things feel childish to me. Ranting about a word like SPIT might be an example. It's not that I think water should always roll off your back, but condensing your complaint to a single sentence wold work more for me. Going on for what seems to me to be so long seems like one a complaining a bit too much, like the rant is trying to convince me of something. Tell me succinctly what you feel. And I will either share or oppose the feeling. And I guess I have not been very succinct about this.

Now to continue to bang my head against the wall for not figuring out the swap.

Banya 10:24 AM  

Ron Cephas Jones is an incredibly talented actor of film, tv & stage. Know his name. His daughter Jasmine Cephas Jones is also a brilliant actor. Know her name, too.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Hey Rex,

I just won a Sports Emmy Tuesday night. Now you can figure out my exact identity with just a little stalker-like googling and a bit of recall from years worth of my posts.

Sorbo's current gigs are Christian dramas. I think your animus has once again revealed your sad ideology.

Joe DiPinto--- Any guesses about the celeb i work with? You mentioned, obliquely, that you thought they were in the news a few weeks back. Not sure where you came up with that. But to my knowledge she ( or he) hasn't been in the news of late.

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

Ah...Yes! I started this off with an HONORE and MOLIERE waltz and ended up doing the shoo-bop, shoo-bop. The Watusi took me all the way to SLY STONEALL to finally look my partner in the eye and tell him that I could forgive his stepping on my toes every 4 seconds. Images dancing in my head. I loved this romp. It took me on a wild SAFARI.
I probably should've skipped our OFL today only because I thought his SPIT take took up too much valuable real estate. You should really try some maggot cheese or maybe pork brains with milk gravy. SPIT will be the icing on your cake.
Let's see. First, I'm going to say this was clever. Yes, it took me many steps to finally see the light. No, I didn't mind in the least. My travels a la Theodore took me back to Nairobi and the Massai Mara Reserve park. We didn't kill any animals like he did....Nosireebob....we watched the wildebeest migrating along with the zebras. His trophies hang on museum walls (all in the name of conservation). Mine hang in memories of watching elephants enjoying mud baths with their young.
The SIMMER BRAISE SPIT got me thinking of Anthony Bourdain and his "Parts Unknown" (which we are watching back-to-back). He did one of Vietnam and the over-rated Bird's nest soup. I've eaten lots of "strange" foods in my life-time....but I've never had the pleasure of eating anything a tweety bird might upchuck in her bed. My strangest "I dare you" was eating a live itty bitty crab that came out of a sea urchin.
Feel free to get up and walk about the cabin. This was fun, Jon.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Z probably pronounce prerogative as perogative.
There's nothing arbitrary about the correct pronunciation. The R sound is indeed manifested in the pronunciation. That some people elide it is a pity not an argument.

What? 10:40 AM  

A clever and fun puzzle. The theme gave me an Aha moment and filling in the rest was relatively easy but I enjoyed it.
As a newbie constructor (one puzzle coming out in September and another in October), I appreciate how difficult it is to assemble such a clever piece of work.

egsforbreakfast 10:43 AM  

@ Nancy 9:29. I hope your confusion between STP and SPF is limited to cruciverbalistic environments. If it occurs IRL, you should expect some messy days at the beach.

I, like someone earlier, was puzzled about cluing February 4th, rather than just February. Perhaps John Olsen is a down-easter and pronounces it Feb-roo-ary Fawth. I’ve not spent much time in Maine, so take it easy on my likely ineptitude when it comes to the Maine accent.

This concept was great, but the puzzle was just OK due to the exact repetition of the switch. When you got one, you had them all, especially with the circles. Also, if the switches had resulted in even slightly plausible wackiness, this would have been a contender for POY, IMHO.

Challenge to NYTXW: Figure out how to tell the solver that there are answers that will be made easier by added devices such as circled letters, shaded squares, etc. Then give the solver an option for not using them. Just ALL suggestion that probably won’t be taken at ONE seriously.

Rich Limbaw 10:48 AM  

I'm glad I came here today, I couldn't figure out which part was racist

Michiganman 10:52 AM  

@Z. I think you mean the 1917 flu pandemic that ended WW-II because all the soldiers got sick.** :) Har!

**The Trumplodyte in chief actually said this.

Newboy 10:57 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Probably because I’m a fan of most things weird and the ONE for ALL bit was seen before I read 57A reveal. Some combos caused grief like NOMO over NAN, but crosses were fair. Didn’t know SPIT in soup was more than a churlish server’s offense—gotta rate right up there with DOLPHIN eyes in cuisine choices that I can give a pass. Also can give a pass to asshats in my Crossworld though OFL finds them offensive. There’s enough HASSLE in my day already without letting Xword answers get my knickers (made by Hanes) face mask ALL twisted into ONE big knot. My largest regret today was that once the circles & reverse became clear the grid sorta filled itself. Great fun Oln Josen; glad Shill Wortz played along with you.

Brian 11:00 AM  

2/4/2020 — maybe it’s the “4th” part — Why the 4th? — some do not articulate the R in fourth — so the February part is a diversion.

JD 11:02 AM  

I wonder why we meat eaters will gleefully eat a variety of animal parts without batting an eye and gasp at spit?

Had a little Swift obsession a couple of weeks ago (maybe last week), and learning this Spit thing heaps on more esteem.

They nest in caves, find their way through the dark with echolocation. Here's a video of those amazing little critters building their nests https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngPs3kINUXE.

Geezer 11:09 AM  

Ron Cephas Jones is about the only actor in "This Is Us" that didn't overact. Griffin Dunne was very good as Nick Pearson, though.

Emtreidy 11:09 AM  

I’m from NYC...the “R” in four is always silent.

Le Chifforobe 11:10 AM  

I am pretty pissed about this. I got someosome the long answers from the theme before realizing the crosses were wrong, so the App wouldn't accept my answers. Not even when I went back and changed all the circles to rebused obscenities.

burtonkd 11:13 AM  

@Nancy, My wife will see a few seconds of a tv show and tell me the whole plot of the episode. I'm more in your camp of being pleasantly surprised for a second time.
Also good news is that you can hide your own Easter Eggs in the spring:) Every year, our kids find some that have been sitting around for different vintages of hidings.

Whether you want to insist that the 4th of February be pronounced, clue is fine since that variant is very common (see MW definition previously posted). Just because European languages have a proscriptivist pronunciation academy doesn't mean the majority of the population speaks that way there either. Witness the French battle to keep out English words.

burtonkd 11:13 AM  

@Nancy, My wife will see a few seconds of a tv show and tell me the whole plot of the episode. I'm more in your camp of being pleasantly surprised for a second time.
Also good news is that you can hide your own Easter Eggs in the spring:) Every year, our kids find some that have been sitting around for different vintages of hidings.

Whether you want to insist that the 4th of February be pronounced, clue is fine since that variant is very common (see MW definition previously posted). Just because European languages have a proscriptivist pronunciation academy doesn't mean the majority of the population speaks that way there either. Witness the French battle to keep out English words.

Frantic Sloth 11:15 AM  

After reading Rex, et.al. I find my worst fears realized. Bird saliva soup is the kind of thing where I try to imagine the first person who said "hey - we should eat that!"

@Conrad 518am Thanks, but I did get that. The WHY??? is the thing. First, there are two letter Rs in the word, second the "4th" part of the clue is extraneous. If this whole SPIT show was necessary, then...never mind. I'm sure it wasn't.

@JD "The Nixons" seems more appropriate, but doesn't provoke the same level of laughter as say, eschewing an epee for a quill pen in fencing competitions. As is the POETS' wont. Silly POETS.

Big hand/thumbs up for Rhea Seehorn! I used to say the same for Tatiana Maslany (for lead, not supporting) and she finally got there, so there's hope!

@Whatsername 820am OMG! "the 4th" letter! Feeling like an idiot is not unfamiliar to me, so I (and my village) thank you for the bus fare for sending me home.

@Nancy 929am I feel ya. Idiocy loves company, I guess. [winky face] (no emoji for you - see? I can remember some things!)

@Z 1005am Luckily for me, I have many, many more things to feel shame about than just my chronic boomerism. And if that sentence doesn't prove my point, I don't know what would.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Whoa, whoa, who there Anonymous 10:35! @Z don't take kindly to being corrected. Watch out. He may go nucular on you ;)

RooMonster 11:20 AM  

Further evidence of the ole brain getting worse...
That February 4th clue I bemoaned as twas not necessary to have 4th in the clue, now I see it explained as the SILENTR is the 4th letter of FEBRUARY. Now I think the clue is brilliant! Man, maybe I need some oil? Har.

I (more wrongness divulged)(hey, never claimed to be the smartest in the room) pronounce FEBRUARY without that first R. But, not with a Y sound like the M-W says. I say FEB-U-AIRY. I think because of the U following the A, people elide over that R, whereas LIBRARY has the first R followed by just an A, so it's easier to say with the R. If that makes sense. English takes time. Even for native speakers. Kids' pronunciation of spaghetti, e.g. BISH-GETTY. Then there's British English. Aluminum is AL-U-MIN-E-UM. Watching Wheeler Dealers (British fixing up and selling cars show) yesterday, they had a Toyota Celica they pronounced CELL-EE-KA. Those crazy Brits!

RooMonster I Talk Gooder Guy

Joe Dipinto 11:22 AM  

Febuary made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver

—Don McLean

Say aaah.

Mohair Sam 11:23 AM  

Rhea Seehorn has never been nominated for an Emmy? I haven't seen a better actress on TV in years, maybe ever. That lady just nails the Kim Wexler role. There is no justice.

Lady Mohair loves bird nest soup but swore off it this morning (then gargled a gallon of Scope).

@Z - thanks for the Feb-U-ary rant. I had the dropping of the "R" beaten out of me by Dr. Gratz (along with my "D" in this, that and those) in Freshman English. Now everybody rolls their eyes when I pronounce the month (including my niece who took her Masters in English from the University of East Anglia). Jeez.

I thought the February and the SPIT clues were terrific, btw. Got ya thinking, got ya talking - good stuff.

Unknown 11:24 AM  

I agree!

Duffer 11:26 AM  

Liked the clue on pro shop. It’s funny that most people call woods even though they’re nice t made from wood anymore.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

All other things being equal (e.g., all you people with “spit” problems really ought to consult an analyst), today’s themer is especially timely (if only inadvertently), having become the unofficial slogan of the current uprising in Belarus.

Swagomatic 11:35 AM  

Well, I found out that I will never eat Bird's Nest Soup, so that's nice. Also, I liked the puzz more than Rex. 1.5 pencils up.

Chip Hilton 11:35 AM  

Geez, Rex. It’s Thursday. You’re going to be on the lookout for weird, skewed stuff. That’s the fun of it. Yeah, RHALLVONEEY makes no sense on paper (or screen) but, once you’ve got 57A., it does make sense in your head. I loved this. I was really stymied by the NW corner, only falling long after everything else was done. Great clues for SPF and PROSHOP left me flummoxed. Again, I loved it. Thanks, Jon Olsen.

TTrimble 11:37 AM  

Heh, because nothing is more than fun than arguing about language use (:-)): I'd say inelegance is in the ear of the beholder. I always pronounce the first 'r' in "February" and in "library". Now it's quite possible that I sound pompous to most people -- for example, often the first word that comes to my mind when speaking spontaneously is one of those damned "SAT words" -- but in my view the main thing is smoothness and naturality, whether in word choice or in pronunciation. If you hit the 'r' hard like you're trying to make a point, or if you choose words in an effort to sound sophisticated, then I'll grant you could sound a bit silly. But if you sail on like it's the most natural thing in the world and you're not even thinking about it, not so much.

Re "spit": I take your meaning. I think it's all in the subtle personal feelings we develop about language, and in this instance my feeling agrees with Rex's. Here's my own take (spit-take?): in English, the verb came first, and the noun it's associated with, later. (I think.) The verb is primary. "The snake spat out venom." "Watch out, that llama might spit at you!" To me, "spit" as a noun not only came later, but is just slightly more vulgar, and to me, it just sounds a little off if used (in place of "saliva") in a more or less scientific discussion about avian behavior. Not wrong, exactly -- just that the register feels a tad misplaced, in a subtle way. A more extreme example of the same type of thing would be where a zoo guide, even with no children around, explains that during mating season, the female in heat may "fuck" twenty or more males. Not wrong, exactly, but it would definitely sound off to many ears, and not the right register for the occasion. Of course all such matters of "register" are subject to change and evolution, and maybe Rex and I are exhibiting old fartiness to you, but as I say it's a personal feeling based on language as experienced in the present day.

Now, if you're talking about birds to small children who might not know the word "saliva", that would be a whole other matter, and the noun "spit" would probably be the better choice. I'm saying that for adults, the word "spit" -- with images of foamy expectorant -- is more likely to evoke real disgust than "saliva" (as it did for me with the Chinese food association!).

(Hope that makes a little sense, but no biggie if not.)

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Anon 11:19.... And Libary....

Sgreennyc 11:39 AM  

Rex’s comments are becoming so narcissistically self-involved that they are fundamentally useless to his readers. I come to this site now entirely for the comments section.

Carola 11:42 AM  

Tough for me, with a finishing assessment of "Genius!" I loved the word-exchange trick, perhaps all the more so because it took me a long time to see it. Starting from HAMS, I staggered southward, dodging the obstacles created by potentially impossible letter combinations, until I reached cross-friendly BRAISE and saw the THREE MUSKETEERS. Then the random Ls, Ns, and Es in the theme answers above made sense, and the looming dread of a Thursday DNF was transformed into oh-boy-lemme-at-em pleasurable decoding exercise.

I didn't mind the resulting nonsense theme entries; I saw them as consistent with a Thursday puzzle's right to go anywhere trickiness leads it.

PHALLCONE reminded me of this infamous sculpture outside the UW-Madison stadium, a 50-foot concrete obelisk of footballs. It has since been removed.

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Kinda liked this ThursPuz theme fine. Only complaint is they shoulda lost them Circles. Made it too obvious where the ALLs & ONEs went. It's Thursday -- go all sadistic on our asses.

Also, it looks like, for some reason, they spent all the puz's ?-mark clue sadism in 1-A and 2-D. ALL for ONE NW corner.

Didn't know SORBO, HONORE, RON, NAN. Or who won the 1966 World Cup. Knew HECHE, NOMO. Kinda sorta knew MOLIERE.

staff weeject picks: ALL & ONE. Kinda embarrassed tho to say I thought, while solvin, that the revealer was gonna be about Robin Hood. What was the Merry Men's slogan, then …? Just rob from the ALL & give to the ONE percent, I reckon.

Some really cool fillins here AND there (yo, @7-D), includin: AMALGAM. DOLPHIN. MYTURN. ONYXES. WRENCH. FANTASY.

fave themer was definitely SLYSTONEALL. Onlything better woulda been: ONESKINANDBALLS.

@RP: Good mornin, Sun(&spit)shine. yep. Rhea Seehorn deserves much more credit for her Kim.

Thanx for the fairly easy fun, Mr. Olsen. 72-worder? day-um.

Masked & Anonymo1U


Z 11:42 AM  

Can we hit 100 comments before noon?

@Le Chifforobe - 😂😂😂😂

@Michiganman - I have covfefe blocked on Twitter and if I wanted to hear lies I’d go back to doing school discipline, so I missed that. I was highly amused this morning when someone in GOP circles decided to use Herman Cain’s verified Twitter account to support Covfefe/attack Biden.

The R is indeed manifested in the pronunciation, but only when you want to be an insufferable bore. It not as if the Merriam-Webster link with the explanation hasn’t already been shared twice or anything, but here’s American Heritage for you, too..

@Anon10:14 - Betsy DeVos.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

just out of curiosity, does anyone recall a letter sequence swap like this that yielded real words? I imagine that'd be truly impossible?

Frantic Sloth 11:47 AM  

@GILL 1029am "but I've never had the pleasure of eating anything a tweety bird might upchuck in her bed."
I'm dying. 😂
Is this weird? I once shared a pile of mussels with a group of people (in a restaurant), most of which had an itty-bitty crab inside. The mussels, not the people...although eventually both.

@JD 1102am AAAAAWWWWW!!!! here's your adorable link for the lazy.

@Z 1142am Yep. And then some.

Z 11:51 AM  

@TTrimble - but in my view the main thing is smoothness and naturality, whether in word choice or in pronunciation YES YES YES! If you pronounce the R because that’s the way you pronounce it, cool. If you pronounce the R because it is “correct” and the SILENT R is incorrect... well I’ve already said what I think twice so I’ll shut up. BTW - I say library not libary. Why? ENGlish. I note that AH suggest the SILENT R in February was abetted by January. No citation, but that seems plausible.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

"If you pronounce it the way you pronounce it, cool."
What does that mean? One pronounces it that way because that's how it is to be pronounced.

jberg 12:01 PM  

I was going to say Rex needed to get out more, but apparently many don't know what bird's nest soup is made of. I've never had it (note the cost in Rex's WOD writeup), but I've had fried grasshopper, brains, kidneys, tripe, chitterlings -- if people eat it, it's probably good. (Except natto, but that's just my personal taste).

I got the trick with FONEINGROCKZALL, but not until I'd tried a lot of other things; and it was not until I got the revealer (noticing that it contained no circles, I went at it early) that it was always the same two blocs of letters to be swapped. That helped me see it was the RHONE valley, not the Loire, and to finally accept that my red ink wasn't highlighting a dEficit.

Personally, I liked it. the acrosses made more sense than the puzzle where all the acrosses had to be entered backward.

Nancy 12:04 PM  

Oh, wow, @Roo! The fourth letter of February!!!! I completely missed that! Now the clue makes sense! Thank you -- great pickup!

@Entreidy (11:09) -- I've lived in NYC my entire life and both I and just about everyone I know pronounce "four" with a definite "R" at the end. I'd take every cent I have in the bank and guess that you didn't grow up in Manhattan.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

What is naturality?

JC66 12:09 PM  


Good point about January -> Febuary.

Ann Hedonia 12:09 PM  

Hated this with a passion. Clearly it's Q-related. Where we go one, we go all. Or vice versa. This puzzle sucked eggs.


TTrimble 12:20 PM  

(Don't worry, I'll get off this soon.)

"I say library not libary. Why? ENGlish." Hmm. I guess I don't know what argument you are trying to make here. The question is: why wouldn't or shouldn't the principle of dissimilation apply here as well? (And some people do say "libary", until they get it drummed out of their systems by educators, parents, etc. etc.)

old timer 12:38 PM  

What day is it? Oh yeah, T'ursday. COVID may not yet have attacked my body, but my brain is definitely going. So, I was not as literal on the ONEFORALL as I should have been, and missed SORBO, putting in Dorbo and therefore Dimmed (silent D??). SIMMER is very elegantly clued, and I really should have thought of it.

If I ever write a puzzle, "Rex Parker" will be my clue, and NAMBY PAMBY my answer. His distaste for SPIT is the silliest screed he ever wrote, and there have been many. Does he faint whenever BLOOD is part of an answer? Is he nauseated by every mention of SEX? Anyhow, we all learned from a previous puzzle that the nests in that soup are made from Vermicelli. You would be going to a very high end joint to be served the real, bird-saliva based thing.

I have been on a SAFARI through Darkest Africa, with binoculars and camera instead of guns. @Rex might not faint to watch a lion kill and eat its prey -- so often a feature of PBS shows about the noble cats. But I must say, a lot of us on our trip were horrified to watch a hyena catch and kill and eat a harmless and lovely creature. I think OFL would be well advised to stay home.

OTOH, if you like a world where women rule, the funniest thing on the whole SAFARI was watching a pair of lions mate. No doubt at all about who was in charge! The lioness repeatedly cuffed the lion until she deemed his performance satisfactory. And lion cubs are even cuter than kittens.

If you read French at all, Les Trois Mousquetaires is an entertaining novel, and the French is way easier than you might fear. Dumas was a brilliant storyteller, and the Count of Monte Cristo is even better -- one of the greatest yarns ever to come from any pen, in any language.

MLSchrenk 12:42 PM  

Thank you.

Fansince1939 12:51 PM  

You have made me smile Eric, thank you. I will drink a Rhône red to your health at dinner. 😊

Joe Dipinto 12:52 PM  

@Anon 10:28 – ...oh yeah, I think I know what you're talking about, but I forgot the details. What day was that, do you know? I remember who I narrowed it down to, but I don't remember why. It's not a sports person so I'm probably wrong. (Also, fwiw, I don't recall this person being in the news.)

Fantasy Project Runway 12:52 PM  

Amen on the Seehirn thing!

Frantic Sloth 12:55 PM  

@Carola 1142am Yowza! Speaking of the breakfast test.* LOL! @Z your YPSILANTI water tower has been outPHALLCONEd.
And then there's @M&A's 1142am ONESKINANDBALLS. 😆

FWIW I pronounce all the Rs. It's almost as natural to me as being an idiot. Almost.

Pamela 12:58 PM  

4th letter of the word February. Being from New England, Massachusetts to be exact, I had the perfect excuse for leaving it out. It I’ve been an NYC girl for twice as long as I spent in back East, and my r’s have evolved, and are now quite present in my speech. But I still don’t pronounce that one, probably never will. Sounds weird when I try it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone do so, so I’ll just leave it the way it is.

*****SB ALERT*****

Genius, one word to go. Seems like a toughie. Wonder if I’ll get it.

Yesterday I ended up at Genius with a pile of words and 2 pangrams, but missing a whole slew more. By that time I was thoroughly sick of the endeavor, and quit. Today I see that many of the words I missed should have been easy. As they say in France, Tant pis.

TTrimble 1:07 PM  

Hey @Anonymous 12:08 --

@Z was quoting me; I wrote "naturality". The intended meaning is exactly and naturally what you would think. If the nitpick is that it isn't a recognized word, then okay, but in mathematics (where I make a living) it *is* a word, and I would add that it has every right to be a word in ordinary English as well, because it names a concept that is overwhelmingly convenient and useful. (It has a technical meaning in mathematics, but never mind what it is -- the notion that certain isomorphisms are natural is deeply entrenched in mathematics since about the 1930's, and the jargon-y coinage turns out to be extraordinarily apt.)

I don't always write according to someone else's idea of what perfect English is. My main desiderata are to be super-clear, and to hit the right tone, and more incidentally to wallow in and enjoy the riches that the English language has to offer. If someone doesn't like "naturality", then that's really their problem. I knows what I likes, and write to suit my taste. :-)

Mary McCarty 1:12 PM  

If “to err is human”, I’m the most human-ist I’ve ever been today; let me count the ways:

Had “BLM”for 1A, (hope to see that soon as both clue and answer—and reality) confirming mysTerY for 3D, so I was off to a great start...!
For a while I thought the circled letters might be ONE for ALL and ALL for ONE, but that took me nowhere pretty quickly.
Was never a big STALLONE fan, so took a while to get his first name , even with his last one in place...Ted? Ned? Tom? Joe?...any 3-letter name?
I knew 26A had to be some VALLEY, but tried to make it LoirE, even tho that didn’t fit with my obviously correct mysTerY 3D.
Had PHONECALL almost immediately; erased same because it was “obviously” wrong
Thought 34A had to be past tense (I’m always falling for that with “put”, but never fro “read”, go figure) so confidently ended it with D, which had me looking for some kind of “Day” on Feb.4...

Ps. Keeping that old avatar for a while, cuz I really dig the plaid...and am not as creative as @lms....where are you, btw?

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

There seems to be room for negotiation on February. Library is far different. February is 4 syllables and can be awkward to pronounce. Library is 3 syllables and rolls off the tongue quite easily. There is no excuse for pronouncing it Liberry. Unless you also say nucular. Because you just don't know any better.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

This was fun. I got the gag early but that didn't mean I sped through it, except for the reveal answer at 57A. I took EEL out when I realized 17A would be FallING ROCK Zone, only to put it back in when all was revealed.

I mis-entered ADRaAN at 38A, leaving me very confused as to what birds' nests were made of, especially since I wasn't sure if SPYS had an S at the end or perhaps it was SPYz. I finally saw my missing I in ADRIAN and then there was SPIT.

WHEELIE: A simple bike trick, eh? I have never mastered a WHEELIE and I tried for a while because I was tired of unclipping from my pedals when I wanted to go up a curb with my bike. My husband said, "push down on the pedal while leaning back and lifting with your upper body". I could never get the timing right. When exactly do you push down on the pedal in order to lift the front end at the exact moment before you hit the curb? And my upper body strength is lacking. My one wheelie ended in my face cracking into asphalt and my front tooth still shows the results, 30 years later. No more wheelie-ing for me!

Thanks, Jon Olsen, I liked this.

JD 1:17 PM  

@Frantic, The Fighting Poets already has me inexplicably laughing aloud at in appropriate times. Inspiring "The Fighting Nixons" is almost more than I can stand.

@Carolla, I was close to commenting on Phallcone but couldn't translate my goofy thought in writing. Your link, woo, perfection.

@TTrimble, I was a scrawny, smart mouthed kid standing on the playground (second grade maybe) saying, "It's LibRARY." As you can imagine, I was extremely popular. Another phrase from my childhood was, "You do not correct adults!" yelled by my father. Don't even get me started on Nuclear.

Pamela 1:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:26 PM  

May I suggest there is no logic to z's argument. You've put your finger on its chief flaw of course. If anything, z's explanation for his preferred mispronunciation is best described as arbitary.

Unknown 1:29 PM  

this puzzle is not a piece of spit, but a piece of S*IT

Pamela 1:33 PM  

I say Feb-ooary. I also say libRary. Don’t ask me why they’re different, but they are. Blame the English language if you like. Once upon a time, a Swedish model told me how much she loved to go watch the boats on the Hudson Rye-ver. When I corrected her, she had some very unkind things to say about the inconsistencies in our native tongue. Can’t say I blame her.

Frantic Sloth 1:43 PM  

January, Feb(r)uary, June, and July
Huh? Apuhruhl, January, June, or July (at 1:35 or so)

TTrimble 1:59 PM  


These bikeshedding moments are fun, aren't they? ;-)

From The Harvard Lampoon Big Book of College Life, pp. 107-108, under Mispronunciation Drills, it reads,

"In English, native speakers cultivate the following cute mispronunciations in their children, even though such errors will keep them out of the college of their choice.

-- athalete
-- coldslaw
-- chimbley
-- larynyx
-- excape
-- menestration
-- liberry
-- nucular
-- mischievious
-- Winsconsin
-- ellemenohpee
-- aksed "

Frantic Sloth 2:05 PM  

@Conrad 518am I owe you an apology for completely misunderstanding what you wrote - and a full 3 hours before I read & gave the credit to @Whatsername. Mea culpa and thank you twice. For the explanation and not slappin' me sillier.

I hope to God to never use the word "silly" (or its variations) again. But, really...what are the odds?

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

The meltdown ever Kevin Sorbo, whoever he is, was epic.

rjkennedy98 2:15 PM  

I've never disagreed with Rex more about a puzzle than this one. I thought it was interesting and challenging (for a normal solver like me). I didn't stare at the nonsense answers after finishing the puzzle trying to make sense of them. Nor did I feel some rule was being broken.

The point was visual misdirection during solving and it was very effective (at least for me). I got about a third of the way through this puzzle and was completely stumped till I saw the reveler. It was a true AHA moment - and a flush of excitement as I remembered D'Artagnan and his compadres.

Of course it got easier after figuring out the trick (same with many of these Thursdays), but the fill was still interesting. RHONE VALLEY, MOLIERE, HONORE (de Balzac), APOSTLE, SLY STALLONE, BRAISES were interesting fill. How cool is it that Whittier College are the POETS!

Anyways, hope Rex was able to finish his next meal after the trauma of seeing SPIT as an answer.

ebtobiassen 2:17 PM  

Lots of fun once I figured out the reversal. But let's see what Rex finds wrong with it: 1) The word "spit" is icky. 2) The puzzle has the name of an actor whose politics he doesn't like. 3) He doesn't know the name of another (Black) actor. 4) He put the wrong word down for one entry. 5) He dislikes the result of the reversals because they don't make sense or because they do make sense. Either way, he dislikes them.
If any puzzle maker needs a clue for "captious" I think I could suggest one.

Frantic Sloth 2:21 PM  

@JD, @TTrimble My at-home coworker has a particular, very loud nit for Jewlery.

@JD I can't tell whether you and I would cleave or clash as kids. Either way, we'd have been very much alike! Though I doubt you were cruel enough to enlighten your younger cousins to the non-existence of Santa Claus...😕

And I know it's supposed to be ...or July.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

The person I'm referring to is not a sports person either. The Sports Emmy is unrelated. I only invoked it because Rex was railing against The Emmys, and the most recent Emmy ceremony just so happened to be less than 48 hours ago.

Bree140 2:37 PM  

Coming late to the party to echo what @Banya said.
Ron Cephas Jones has a long and distinguished
career as a theater actor (see
http://www.iobdb.com/CreditableEntity/897 ).
Saying you don’t know who he is because you
“barely watch network TV” is like saying you
don’t know who Joe DiMaggio was because
you don’t drink coffee.

Amelie L'Tella 2:37 PM  

@Pamela Tant pis.

bauskern 2:39 PM  

Wait, people actually pronounce the first R in February?
Who knew?

As for rex, I think either he's just trolling us with his daily bit of playing the surly curmudgeon, or he needs a new pastime.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

I was tired of unclipping from my pedals when I wanted to go up a curb with my bike.

strictly speaking, from an outlaw street bikers point of view, that's not a wheelie. I ought to know, since I've been riding various versions of 'racing bike' going back to when even Schwinn sold them gone pulled over many a curb. a true wheelie means riding solely on the rear wheel for some distance/time. while pedalling, if on a bike. motorcycle wheelies are the prime example. never tried one of those on purpose. nearly ate pavement when a friend offered a ride (solo) on his Yamaha 250 (2 cycle, auto-oiler; should tell you how long ago that was) in the fall in New England in a hilly neighborhood. all was well until I unintentionally pulled enough throttle to send the motor on the pipe, in some leaves. I've never figured out how I managed to not get killed.

Lewis 2:45 PM  

@jberg -- Ditto re natto!

Smith 2:52 PM  

@TTrimble 7:55

"mostly children"...

The principal of a school where I taught referred, invariably, to the "liberry" *and* the "liberrian" had a sign up warning the kiddos not to touch the "power polls", so I guess they could touch polls done by, idk, students?

And I'm finding SB much harder than this puzzle...

JD 3:05 PM  

Last post. Promise.

@Frantic, Oldest cousin ... controlled them with, "You have to do what I say, I'm the oldest. Now go ahead, you won't get caught." Still believe in Santa Clause though.

We would've cleaved. Who did you get more excited about on Ed Sullivan, a juggler or Allen King, Phyllis Diller, and Jackie Mason.

@TTrimble, Genius list. Think I grew up hearing most of them but TV saved me.

NY Composer 3:07 PM  

Ditto on Rhea Seehorn!

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Get over it, February has two acceptable pronunciations.

Liz 3:09 PM  

This one made me want to spit. Ugh ugh ugh.

Liz 3:10 PM  

Agree. And it was boring.

Usmcrgreg 3:35 PM  

Rex once again confirming the reason why so many young people are enamored of the extreme left. It’s all they hear in the classroom.

Joe Dipinto 3:42 PM  

@Anon 2:29 – ok, but there must have been a context for mentioning it at the time. I think you gave a number of years – 20? Other details? I'm drawing a blank, and I can't find the post.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

Yeah. That's how it works.

Anonymoose 3:53 PM  

@Rex's SPIT aversion makes sense. We know how he feels about "moist".

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

Sorry. I'm being coy. I'm sure there was context. But what it was escapes me.
It's no biggie. And I'm no big shot. I'm not sure what I can say and what I can't say on a public forum. And frankly, I'm not risking anything after the last couple of months I've had at work.
I'm gonna drop this topic, I hope you'll understand. If not, I understand that too. ( But I'm not going to drop the February thing. A far, far, far less well known person used to get in arguments in the VO booth regarding its pronunciation. I think only Mohair Sam would know this person)

Ernonymous 3:56 PM  

@teedmn it's better to push down on the front wheel, not on the pedals, and then pull the front wheel up. Push that front wheel DOWN right as you reach the curb, then pull up hard, you'll easily get over the curb. Who told you to push down on pedals I think that won't work.
I do tons of cyclocross racing, there is usually a log or 2 to jump or sometimes a curb to go up, you lose too much time if you unclip and dismount. There is always one racer who can jump the barriers which are about 2 feet high. But as @anon 2:42 says that would be a bunny hop, not a wheelie.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

Carmine PHALLCONE (Falcone) of Batman and Gotham(great TV series)

goldbug 4:22 PM  

Quite enjoyed this, and I liked all the little bonus Frenchisms to go with the Dumas theme: À MOI, HONORÉ, RHÔNE VALLEY, MOLIÈRE.

Not sure I see why SAFARIS needs to be a verb, as "travels" can be a noun ("Teddy's on his travels again"). Speaking of travels, my partner and I went to Indonesian Borneo a couple of years ago, and a town we stayed in overnight was a big exporter of the birds' nests in bird's nest soup. Quite a clever process - they have these huge barn type structures which they lure birds into with piped-out birdsong. The birds fly in through pipes and make their nests inside, but they can come and go as they like. Then the townsfolk steal the nests and sell them to China. Still kinda gross if you ask me.

Joe Dipinto 4:36 PM  

@Anon – I remember now, it was a thread where some people started talking about celebrity sightings. You said you'd worked with one of the celebs I'd seen for, I think, 20 years. And I narrowed it down to one likely person, through some process of elimination (but I didn't name the person).

I'll drop it too, but I'll tell you this: the first and last names of the person I thought it was have the same number of letters.

TTrimble 5:18 PM  

Re pronunciation of you-know-what: hee-hee! You might be right: for most people it might take a little training to get down smoothly, like music requires training. I've been training on that pronunciation for many years. I sound awesome.

Re the SB: good on ya! I'll have something to say about it in the mornin' (pronounced mawnin -- silent r and all that).

Oh, before I forget: thanks @Z for the link to the Bowie vid. He is phenomenal. Somehow even his mortality and death are works of art. I am not familiar with all of Blackstar, but now my interest is thoroughly piqued.

Anoa Bob 5:18 PM  

I like a letter-swap theme if the results are clever, funny, insightful, counter-intuitive, entertaining....something, anything! Today the results don't even come close to that. The sensible pre-swap phrases become meaningless, ugly gibberish with no redeeming value that I can see. FONEING ROCKZALL? RHALL VONEEY? Et al. I see no connection to each other or to any other part of the puzzle. Comes across as goofy nonsense to me.

The ONE for ALL swap was apparent by the second theme entry, so I skipped ahead to the reveal and with no crosses filled in THREE MUSKETEERS. Too obvious. At this point I SPaT out an expletive or two and then went to the archives and did a NYT puzzle from 2001 to help forget this ALL.

Lojman 5:19 PM  

All they had to do was make those rebus squares, and the complaint about aesthetics goes away. Loved it!

sixtyni yogini 5:26 PM  

‼️😎 don’t stop. 😎 ‼️

And I really enjoyed this puzzle. 🧩👍🏽🧩

(Safaris was meant as a noun, as in “my travels and safaris were all mental during the 2020 pandemic.”.
I’m sure someone has already pointed this out.)

Ernonymous 5:30 PM  

@teedmn it's better to push down on the front wheel, not on the pedals, and then pull the front wheel up. Push that front wheel DOWN right as you reach the curb, then pull up hard, you'll easily get over the curb. Who told you to push down on pedals I think that won't work.
I do tons of cyclocross racing, there is usually a log or 2 to jump or sometimes a curb to go up, you lose too much time if you unclip and dismount. There is always one racer who can jump the barriers which are about 2 feet high. But as @anon 2:42 says that would be a bunny hop, not a wheelie.

Ernonymous 5:35 PM  

Theodore Roosevelt killed 517 animals on his African safari, including 17 lions, 29 zebras, 8 hippos.
I grew up near Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and I remember going there on field Trips. The Big game heads on the walls still stick in my memory. They also had a little cemetary out back for their dogs. That I was quite in awe of, not ever being allowed to have a pet.

dm3000 5:44 PM  

Really sad that the doctrinaire, intolerant, radical left cannot even abide a reference to a Trump supporter like Sorbo et al. When I pull the lever for Trump in November I'll be thinking of you.

Jeff Ford 5:48 PM  

TIL that there are people who not only pronounce both “R”s in February, but are also snotty about the people who do not.

sixtyni yogini 5:50 PM  

@Rex “Fuckwitsl” sounds a bit lShakespearean and so aptly used!
Another excellent insult heard today, possibly from historic plague times, Is “ratlicker.” (It was applied to non-mask wearers).

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

Yes. It was celebrity sightings. Wow. In addition to my own stuff, I told the story of my mother, Bill Murray and ultimately, my dad outside The Palm.
Fantastic recall.

Whatsername 6:08 PM  

@Joe Welling (8:26) you win the prize for best comment of the day.

@Frantic: Re “ Feeling like an idiot is not unfamiliar to me.” That feeling? I’ve given up fighting it and learned to embrace it. Life’s too short. 😄

TexanPenny 6:43 PM  

I'm accustomed to Rex's Rexishness, but the things said in the Sorbo rant would bother me no matter who was being lambasted. To me, personal insults do not belong in a crossword blog. My opinion. You are welcome to yours.

Ernonymous 6:55 PM  

@dm3000 there's not going to be a lever to pull. Trumo found out people might vote against him at the polls, so he is dismantling voting booths next. You've been conned,

Michael Hanko 7:10 PM  


Anonymous 7:16 PM  

@TexanPenny: He is not well. Best to stick to the comments section of this blog.

Space Is Deep 7:59 PM  

Fantastic puzzle! Offended by the word SPIT? Wow! Nearly speechless, but not enough to not post this comment.

Z 8:05 PM  

@TTrimble12:20 - I say “library” because that’s the pronunciation I grew up with. If ENGlish were more mathematical dissimulation would either always happen or never happen, but language is used by people and we are a messy, inconsistent creature. Also, from a purely tonal aesthetic, that “bruar” combination is especially grating to my ear, whereas the “brar” doesn’t grate nearly as much.
Blackstar is an awesome album, but people often forget his crossword themed song, DOOKS, which somehow seems especially relevant today. 😎

Anonymous 8:21 PM  


@dm3000 hasn't been conned. he's gotten the bigot he's wanted since Wallace lost.

TTrimble 8:31 PM  


That's fine and I accept that. (I momentarily forgot that ENG was an answer and was thrown off by the caps, as if you were being vehement somehow. (-:) But perhaps the main thing is the pronunciation you grew up with. Probably I learned how to pronounce the second month from my mother. :-)

Almost 200 comments! Incredible. Aside from the occasional trollishness (trollery?), it's been fun.

Thanks for the DOOKS tip.

CG 8:37 PM  

Totally agree. We’re supposed to know that they wanted them correct vertically and not horizontally? I didn’t know NOMO or NAN for sure, so it seemed like there was something wrong there. A waste of time looking for mistakes that weren’t there.

Anonymous 8:42 PM  

You say library because that’s how it’s pronounced correctly.
By your logic if people grew up saying liberry for library they’d be correct? That’s silly and you know it.
As for what sounds better, bru or brah what ever happened to your tired refrain de gusty us non disputandum...?

Anonymous 9:28 PM  

As for 46 Across, I thought an apt 5 letter nickname for the Whittier College teams would by the "Dicks".

Grandmama 11:01 PM  

I agree.. it was stoopid! 😂

Ben 6:22 AM  

it seems almost like self-parody that Rex's list of banned-crossword-words has now expanded to include "spit"

LenFuego 6:38 PM  

I have never agreed more with Rex than about Rhea Seehorn. Her performance alone is worth watching any episode of Better Call Saul, and I am sure her fate in the final season to come will provide thespian fireworks of a brand not before seen.

thefogman 10:38 AM  

Lots of SPIT hold this one together, and barely at that. 32D could have been clued rotisserie rod.

spacecraft 10:39 AM  

DNF, and I'm almost glad. I'd hate to rate a puzzle with an RPG in it (13d). It did have a gigantic aha! moment, when I hit upon the "all for one & vice versa" thing, but even after that the NW was absolutely ungettable. That business about the woods? That was low. And SAFARIS as a verb? Didn't know. Not up on Teddy's timeline. Plus techy things going across. I had no hope.

Koop 10:41 AM  

When you start getting rude and crude about politics and “right-wing” then I am outta here. You actually may have some conservative Republicans who did crosswords.

Girl Detective 11:00 AM  

Hated this puzzle, which runs a week or two later in my paper. The reason we should be disgusted w Kevin Sorbo (and Anne Heche) as answers is that they were c list actors over 2 decades ago. And Pro Shop struck me as the exact kind of elitist bs that people rightly mock the times for. This puzzle was actively unpleasant for me, from the elitist slant, the outdated culture, to the awkward swaps. Hated it. And wish to never see Sorbo or Heche in a puzzle again.

rondo 11:20 AM  

I’m ALL with @Lewis on this ONE. I thought the gimmick was very clever regardless of what the theme answers look like after filling them in. Perfectly executed. And if SPIT puts you off so much as to almost completely disregard a nice gimmick, well, you need help. I knew something funny was up, so I filled carefully and got it down at SLYSTONEALL and finished with an impeccably clean grid.

The four corners give us the monster of untouchables – NESS.

Funny that OFL did not expand on the LENS of photographer NAN Goldin’s work. Anne HECHE might fit into that FANTASY.

I found this to be a very clever puz, and it has a RON in it.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

I'm surprised how many didn't like this puzzle. Once you figure out the theme everything eventually falls into place - which isn't a bad thing. Lots of themes are almost an afterthought after finishing the puzzle. And even though the theme gets you almost to the finish line it's not a slam dunk by any means, except for OFL. The NW also hung me up for a while until I light-bulbed on PROSHOP.

Burma Shave 12:21 PM  


you’d SAY it was FANTASY on the PH(ONE),
but it ENDS when she will START to talky


rondo 1:13 PM  

@Girl Detective - PROSHOP is not elitist, NOR is golf. I am squarely in the middle class (Twin City ex-urbs) and can be found in a golf PROSHOP at least twice a week and have done so for at least 30 years. My golf club membership is only $400/yr for a decent 9 hole course; ends up costing $10 or less per round. Hardly elite territory. Your entire post is painted with a brush that is too broad. Living too close to tall buildings can be a cause of that.

BTW, the puz is syndicated in both the Strib and Pioneer Press and is 5 weeks late.

leftcoaster 3:24 PM  

Clever theme, but in a simple sort of way. ALL for ONE, etc...can be used to make ir work either way, switching them as you prefer, one way or the other for acrosses and downs.

So? That's it? Okay.

Diana, LIW 5:11 PM  

The mid-south left me in LIMBO, so even after some inadvertent cheating, I still had a DNF.

Cute ALL-IN-ONE theme for a Thursday, which I discovered when I was checking one of my answers. Better than a rebus, IMO.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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